Toronto Maple Leafs: Should Curtis Joseph Be in the Hall of Fame?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 9: Curtis Joseph #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during NHL game action on March 9, 1999 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 9: Curtis Joseph #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during NHL game action on March 9, 1999 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /

Toronto Maple Leafs legend, Curtis Joseph, is one of the most loved Maple Leafs goaltenders of all time.  Despite being passed over on the ballot 9 times, many hockey fans argue that he’s the best goaltender absent from the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Does he deserve to be honoured in hockey’s hall of heroes?

Curtis Joseph (aka Cujo) sits 7th in All-Time NHL Wins by a Goaltender (454).  Every goaltender ahead of him is either in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour) or they haven’t reached eligibility yet (Marc-Andre Fleury: Still playing, Roberto Luongo: 2022 eligible, Henrik Lundqvist: 2023 eligible).

Curtis Joseph also sits 6th in All-Time NHL Saves (24,279).  All of the players placing higher than Curtis Joseph are in the Hall of Fame except for Roberto Luongo who is eligible this coming year.

What may be standing in Cujo’s way is his lack of hardware.  He never won a Stanley Cup or a Vezina Trophy.  Curtis Joseph was top 5 in Vezina voting 5 times though.  He was runner-up in 1999 and was also nominated in 1993 and 2000.  He was even fourth in Hart Trophy voting in 1999.

Curtis Joseph did win the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2000 and played in three NHL All-Star games (1992, 1999, 2000).  Cujo was also the starting goalie for Team Canada in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey where the team finished as runner-up, and he won gold with Canada at the 2002 Olympics. (stats

Curtis Joseph was inducted into the St. Louis Sport Hall of Fame in 2015.

Curtis Joseph Highlight Seasons:

1991-92 St. Louis Blues:  Curtis Joseph really broke out during his third year with the St. Louis Blues.  He finished the season second in SV% (.910) behind only Patrick Roy (.914).

1992-93 St. Louis Blues:  Curtis Joseph received his first Vezina Trophy nomination which was won by Ed Belfour.  Cujo ranked first in SV% (.911) ahead of Felix Potvin (.910) and Ed Belfour (.906).  He also ranked 5th in GAA (3.02).

1993-94 St. Louis Blues:  This season Curtis Joseph achieved his career high in wins (36) which was third most in the league. He finished 4th in Vezina Trophy voting and played in his first NHL All-Star Game.

1994-95 St. Louis Blues: In his last season with the St. Louis Blues, Curtis Joseph’s stats slightly declined, but he was still able to rank 5th in wins (20).  After a disappointing first round exit in 1995, Cujo’s rights were traded to the Edmonton Oilers.

1996-97 Edmonton Oilers: Curtis Joseph had a rough time during his first season with Edmonton Oilers.  That summer, Cujo lead Team Canada in net to finish as runner-up in the World Cup of Hockey and he was ready for a bounce back NHL season in 1996-97.  He finished the season with 32 wins, ranked 4th in shutouts (6), and placed 5th in Vezina Trophy voting.

1997-98 Edmonton Oilers: Curtis Joseph put in a solid final season with the Edmonton Olers.  Cujo would set a career high in shutouts (8) which ranked him 4th in the league.  He would sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs the next summer.

1998-99 Toronto Maple Leafs: Curtis Joseph would be a force for the Toronto Maple Leafs taking them all the way to the conference finals after missing the playoffs in the two previous seasons.  Cujo would finish the season second in wins (35) behind only Martin Brodeur (39).   He played in his second NHL All-Star Game, he was runner-up to Dominik Hasek for the Vezina Trophy, and he ranked 4th in Hart Trophy voting.

1999-00 Toronto Maple Leafs:  Another amazing season for Curtis Joseph on the Toronto Maple Leafs!  Cujo matched his career high in wins (36) which was 4th best in the league and won the regular season division title for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He also set a career high in SV% (.915).  He was nominated for the Vezina Trophy for the third time, played in his third NHL All-Star Game and won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

2000-01 Toronto Maple Leafs: Curtis Joseph continued his streak of solid goaltending for the Toronto Maple Leafs  with 33 wins and matched his career high in SV% (.915).

2001-02 Toronto Maple Leafs: Despite setting a career best GAA (2.23), Curtis Joseph’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs was coming to an end.  Though Toronto Maple Leafs coach and GM, Pat Quinn, also coached Curtis Joseph on Canada’s gold medal winning Olympic team, the two couldn’t agree on the term of his next contract.  Cujo would sign with the Detroit Red Wings that summer.

2002-03 Detroit Red Wings:  Curtis Joseph’s first season with the Detroit Red Wings was brilliantly!  His 34 wins (5th in the league) lead the Detroit Red Wings to the regular season division title.  In 2003-04, Cujo would lose his starting role to the returning Dominik Hasek and then to the emerging Manny Lagace.  After the 2004-05 lockout, Curtis Joseph would sign with the Phoenix Coyotes.

2005-06 Phoenix Coyotes:  This would be Curtis Joseph’s final great season earning 32 wins.  He would play one more season in Phoenix, play 9 games for the Calgary Flames in 2007-08 and then return to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a backup role in 2008-09.  Curtis Joseph would retire at the age of 43.

Though he never won a Vezina Trophy, Curtis Joseph was one of the best goaltenders in an era when many of the greatest goaltenders of all time played (Brodeur, Roy, Hasek, Belfour…).  He found a way to win on good teams and bad teams and was adored by fans wherever he played.

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Curtis Joseph may not make the 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class since Roberto Luongo, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg have all become eligible along with other missed greats like Alexander Mogilny, Keith Tkachuk and Sergei Gonchar.  Hopefully, we’ll see him grace hockey’s great hall some day.